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Column: ALICE training helps all in district be prepared

By Brett Perish, District 518

WORTHINGTON — As the school year begins, we here at ISD 518 have been working hard all summer in many different ways. Teachers and coaches have been putting together lesson and practice plans. Administration and office staff have been working on budgets, making student schedules and hiring staff. Custodians and cooks have been maintaining our buildings, planning and preparing all summer for the upcoming school year. All of this is done to help provide our students with an excellent education, and opportunities to unlock their full potential.

However, we have also been taking new measures to plan for the safety and well-being of our students and staff. In June, ISD 518 sent five staff members to Luverne for a two-day ALICE training. Two local law enforcement officers also attended the training. ALICE is a nationally recognized active shooter response protocol that trains all types of organizations to take a proactive approach to planning their responses to a potential violent incident. Using the training that was provided in Luverne, along with ALICE resources, it is our goal as a district to implement the strategies that ALICE teaches into our crisis response policies throughout the district.

Of course, any changes to our crisis response plans will be done carefully and thoughtfully. This means that we will be purposefully considering how to properly implement ALICE strategies into each of our school buildings. Over the course of this school year, all staff will be trained on the different strategies that ALICE has to offer. After staff have been trained on specific strategies, each building will conduct crisis drills to implement the new skills with the students.

In the past, any “lockdown” drills that we have done within the district have been completed without giving the students any prior warning. This was done with the thought that we can never be certain when a violent incident might happen, so it is best to prepare our students and staff to be ready to act at a moment’s notice. That will change this year. ALICE teaches that because a violent incident could come in such a wide variety of forms, it is best to train all building occupants so that they are equipped with multiple ways in which they could respond. This means that when we conduct drills this year, they will be much more situational and specific so that our students and staff can put their new skills into practice. Because our drills will be more situational, we will always give our students, and the community, advanced warning that a drill is approaching to avoid raising any unnecessary concerns or fears.

It goes without saying that we hope we never have to worry about a violent crisis occurring in one of our schools. We fully understand that talking about things like “violent critical incidents” and “active shooter trainings” can be uncomfortable and downright scary. However, it would also be naïve and irresponsible not to be prepared. Through careful, age-appropriate training, we are working to ensure that all of our staff and students are equipped with the strategies needed to keep themselves and others safe in case a crisis does occur. We are all looking forward to another safe and successful school year!

If you have any questions on these changes, please do not hesitate to contact the ISD 518 district office, or a building administrator.

Early warning is critical to preventing violence before it happens. Please report any information that could help prevent future violence to local law enforcement immediately.

Brett Perish is assistant principal at Worthington Middle School.

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